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‘Permeable pavers’ could be solution to flash flooding in Davenport alley

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- People living along one Davenport alley say something needs to be done about the stormwater pooling outside their garages.

Ernie Henning has lived on Myrtle Street for 13 years. He says heavy rains have always caused drainage problems in his alley outback.

"It just doesn't get carried away," he says of the storm runoff, "and it just runs across. And it sounds like Niagra Falls over there."

Henning says many of his neighbors have to deal with water in their basements and garages and it's not getting any better.

"In the last several years, it has gotten worse," Henning says. "Definitely just one good rain and it's like that."

The City of Davenport is now looking at installing permeable pavers, blocks put down in place of traditional concrete or blacktop. They're spaced a fraction of an inch apart so rainwater can drain through and collect in an underground reservoir. The water is then filtered to remove contaminants and seeps back into the soil.

Just a few blocks away from Henning's neighbor, Rick Irons has lived just a few houses up from Dover Court where these pavers were installed in 2014.

"West Central Park (Avenue), they used to flood all the time," Irons says. "They'd have to put pumps down there every time it'd rain. It would back up on that street and it would be like a river going down to West Central Park."

But now, instead of a river, Irons says the water drains through the paver in just a few hours of the rain stopping.

"Like the other day when we had a downpour, it was like a river coming down, but it drained down real fast," he says.

Amy Kay, the clean water manager with the City of Davenport, says the pavers can cost more than traditional road surfaces, depending on the size of the road. She says they're worth the cost and adds they serve a dual purpose. They alleviate flooding and filter the water so it's cleaner when it returns to the soil.

Kay says her team considers the pavers when they try to fix alleys or streets that flood.

The pavers moved one step closer to being installed in Henning's alley on Wednesday, June 5. A public hearing was held on the project and the City Council could vote on it in the near future.

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